We’re just two games into the season so there is still much to be learned about first year Florida basketball coach Mike White but there is a lot to like about White’s style and the possibilities for this Gator basketball team. They’re 2-0 after Monday night’s 104-54 beatdown of North Carolina A&T, an outmatched team that had little hope of mounting a serious challenge, but six players scored in double figures, eight players hit a 3-pointer and 11 different Gators scored. Florida shot 57.6% overall and 15-29 (51.7%) from the 3-point line. Those are good numbers even if you’re playing the JV team from a Tibetan monastery.
1. Dorian Finney-Smith is the senior leader the Gators didn’t have last year.
2. If the Gators had 6-11 USF transfer John Egbunu and Devon Walker (ACL) last year, they would have won 25 or more games and made a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
3. Devin Robinson will prove to be one of the 2-3 most improved players in the SEC this year.
4. KeVaughn Allen and Brandone Francis-Ramirez are athletic scoring guards that will easily replace the lost production of Michael Frazier III.
BIG WIN FOR AMANDA AND FLORIDA WOMEN
The Gators got a huge win for Amanda Butler in the preliminary to the men’s game, knocking off 6th-ranked Florida State, 82-72. This might be the best team Amanda has had since 2008-09 when they went 24-8. A name to remember: Eleanna Christinaki, a 6-0 freshman guard from Greece, who had 13 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. She is a difference maker.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY PREDICTIONS
1. Illinois: Interim Bill Cubit wants the job but the choice will come down to Western Michigan HBC P.J. Fleck and Illinois State HBC Brock Spack. The guess here is Fleck.
2. North Texas: The perfect fit here is TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, who has learned the art of finding 2- and 3-star gems that the big schools overlook from Gary Patterson. Meacham’s offense will put fannies in the seats.
3. Maryland: Most people with good sense will look at this and realize that being in the same division with Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State is a ticket to a lot of bad seasons. So, Maryland needs someone who doesn’t have good sense. Hello Lane Kiffin.
4. Southern Cal: There is some speculation that Penn State coach James Franklin will bolt for the left coast but even though he’s in the same division with Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh, Franklin will stay with his Pennsylvania roots. The next two on the list are going to be Tom Herman (Houston HBC) and Justin Fuente (Memphis HBC). Southern Cal goes with Fuente because his pro-style offense is a perfect fit.
5. South Carolina: They’ve had Tom Herman’s name circled from the very beginning. He’s the young, exciting coach the Gamecocks need to compete with Dabo Swinney and Clemson.
6. UCF: UCF is going to name a new AD this week so that will change things instantly. If it’s Kentucky associate AD Dewayne Peavy, look for an SEC assistant, perhaps two from the UF staff – DC Geoff Collins (former UCF assistant) or UF LB and former Miami HBC Randy Shannon. If the new AD is Buffalo AD Danny White, then the new guy will be UB coach Lance Leipold, who was 109-6 with six DIII national titles at Wisconsin-Whitewater. The guess is UCF goes with Peavy and his choice is Collins.
7. Miami: Charlie Strong shocks the boosters at Texas and tells them to stick their oil bazillions where the sun doesn’t shine.
8. Virginia Tech: Kirby Smart says he’d love to have this job, but AD Whit Babcock will go with who he knows and that’s Rich Rodriguez. Rich will seal the deal by agreeing to keep Bud Foster as the DC.
9. Hawaii: Oregon State DC Kalani Sitake is of Tongan descent so the thought is he could recruit Samoans, Tongans and other Polynesians. The other choice is June Jones, who knows now he should have never left the islands. June doesn’t have a job but has money, already lives in Honolulu and will work cheap so he gets the job.
10. Missouri: There is a lot of sentiment to stay in house and promote DC Barry Odom, who’s one of departing Gary Pinkel’s boys, but Mizzou will go with Bowling Green HBC Dino Babers, an Art Briles guy and an offensive genius. It won’t hurt that he’s African-American.
11. Louisiana-Monroe: The school prez says he wants a proven winner. Since (a) this is the Sun Belt Conference and (b) ULM will spring for about $400,000, the school will take a cue from Georgia Southern and go with someone from D1AA. Sam Houston State’s K.C. Keeler will fit the bill nicely.
The ripple effect:
Texas: There aren’t many jobs that could get Chip Kelly to leave the NFL. Texas is one of them.
Memphis: Justin Fuente goes to Southern Cal, Western Kentucky HBC Jeff Brohm will make the short drive from Bowling Green to Memphis..
Arizona: Matt Wells from Utah State wil be the guy to replace RichRod.
Houston: Houston hires one of its own, former QB and assistant coach Clay Helton, now the interim head coach at Southern Cal.
5 more predictions
1. Fresno State will fire Tim DeRuyter and hire Florida OC Doug Nussmeier, who succeeded Jim McElwain as the Fresno OC in 2008.
2. Virginia will fire Mike London and hire Alabama DC Kirby Smart.
3. Syracuse will fire Doug Shafer and hire former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Bucs HBC Greg Schiano.
4. Bill Snyder will retire at Kansas State and his replacement will be one of his protégés, Brent Venables, the DC at Clemson.
5. Kentucky will fire Mark Stoops and hire Toledo coach Matt Campbell.
SEC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player of the Week: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Defensive Player of the Week: Oren Burks, S, Vanderbilt
Special Teams Player of the Week: Isaiah McKenzie, PR, Georgia
Freshman of the Week: Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
Offensive Lineman of the Week: Dan Skipper, RT, Arkansas
Defensive Lineman of the Week: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
#3 ALABAMA (9-1, 6-1 SEC): Running back Kenyan Drake had surgery on his fractured right arm. It is being reported he could be back as soon as the SEC Championship Game.
ARKANSAS (6-4, 4-2 SEC): Defensive end Mitchell Loewen broke his foot against LSU. He’s the 10th Arkansas player to go down with a broken bone this season.
AUBURN (5-5, 2-5 SEC): When the season began, Auburn’s game with Idaho was looked at as a game in which Gus Malzahn would be resting his starters to get ready for a showdown with Alabama that would determine the SEC West. Instead, it’s a game that Auburn needs for post season play. “We’re focused on Idaho and getting bowl eligible,” DC Will Muschamp said.
#8 FLORIDA (9-1, 7-1 SEC): Saturday opponent Florida Atlantic (2-8) owns wins over Charlotte and Florida International. The Owls average 22.3 points, 379.9 yards of total offense, 158.9 rushing yards and 221 passing yards per game. The Owls average 5.71 yards per play, 3.99 yards per rush and 6.9 per pass attempt. Defensively, they give up 428.4 yards per game (5.3 per play), 185.3 yards rushing (4.25 per carry) and 243.1 passing yards (7.7 per attempt).
GEORGIA (7-3, 5-3 SEC): There is plenty of reason to believe Mark Richt will still be Georgia’s football coach next season, but what happens if Georgia Southern finds lightning in a bottle for the second time in three years? When the Eagles beat Florida in The Swamp in 2013 Will Muschamp survived to coach one more year. If the Eagles upset Georgia in Athens Saturday, there is no way Richt will be coaching Georgia in 2015.
KENTUCKY (4-6, 2-6 SEC): Frustrated with Patrick Towles’ play at QB, Mark Stoops will start Drew Barker Saturday against Charlotte. Towles threw an interception at the Vandy 3 in the first half Saturday and an incompletion on second-and-goal at the VU 1 in the fourth quarter, a game the Wildcats lost, 21-17.
#17 LSU (7-3, 4-2 SEC): After running for a combined 122 yards and 2 TDs in his last two games, Leonard Fournette’s Heisman Trophy chances are trending downward. Says Paul Finebaum, “I don’t think he has any chance and I’m really sad by that.” To even get back into serious contention, Fournette might need monster games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-3, 3-3 SEC): To beat Arkansas this week, Mississippi State is going to have to throw the ball and the matchups are favorable. Mississippi State throws the ball for 297.1 yards per game while Arkansas ranks 113th in pass defense, giving up 282.3. And, that Mississippi State O-line that gave up 9 sacks to Alabama catches a break. Arkansas is #111 in the country in sacks with only 13 the entire season.
MISSOURI (5-5, 2-4 SEC): The way the Tigers were playing and with the distraction of a threatened player strike, no one expected Mizzou to beat BYU. With Tennessee and Arkansas remaining on the schedule, all the Tigers have to do is win one of the two and they’ll give departing coach Gary Pinkel a bowl game as a sendoff.
#25 OLE MISS (7-3, 4-2 SEC): Safety Tony Conner returned from a torn meniscus to play against Arkansas two weeks ago but he’s still not fully healed. Hugh Freeze said Conner is about 60% healthy but he’s expected to play Saturday against LSU.
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-7, 1-7 SEC): There are reports that interim head coach Shawn Elliott and staff have been told to halt recruiting because a new HBC hire is imminent. Athletic director Ray Tanner and Elliott both deny the report.
TENNESSEE (6-4, 3-3 SEC): Offensive tackle Jashon Robertson (ankle), wide receiver Preston Williams (hamstring) and offensive tackle Brett Kendrick (elbow and knee) are all probable for Saturday’s trip to Missouri.
TEXAS A&M (7-3, 3-3 SEC): Given the way the Aggies struggled with D1AA Western Carolina, it’s a bit of a shock that they’re a -8.5 road favorite on the road at Vanderbilt. We won’t know until today if Kevin Sumlin is going to reinstate wide receivers Josh Reynolds and Speedy Noil, who were suspended for the game with WCU.
VANDERBILT (4-6, 2-4 SEC): Needing two wins to become bowl eligible, Vanderbilt knows its defense has to come up big against Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Commodores rank 17th nationally in total defense and they’ve given up only 48 points combined in their last four SEC games.
SEC IN NCAA STATS
Scoring (points per game): (12) Ole Miss 40.7; (34) Arkansas 34.4; (36) Tennessee 34.0; (39) LSU 33.6; (Tie, 44) Alabama 32.9; (51) Mississippi State 31.8; (54) Texas A&M 30.8; (70) Georgia 28.2; (71) FLORIDA 28.1; (Tie, 89) Auburn 25.7; (109) Kentucky 21.4; (112) South Carolina 20.9; (125) Vanderbilt 15.4; (126) Missouri 15.2
Rushing (yards per game/per attempt): (10) LSU 253.0/5.98; (29) Tennessee 210.3/4.56; (32) Arkansas 203.0/5.22; (33) Georgia 202.4/5.31; (35) Alabama 199.3/4.77; (44) Auburn 191.3/4.32; (54) Texas A&M 182.1/4.61; (57) Ole Miss 177.8/4.97; (Tie, 81) South Carolina 160.3/4.45; (91) Vanderbilt 152.9/3.68; (95) Kentucky 144.5/4.28; (99) Mississippi State 141.3/4.37; (102) FLORIDA 138.6/3.67; (117) Missouri 120.9/3.52
Passing (yards per game/per attempt): (8) Ole Miss 348.8/8.94; (21) Mississippi State 297.1/8.14; (33) Arkansas 266.3/9.25; (40) Texas A&M 251.9/6.86; (55) FLORIDA 232.3/7.74; (74) Alabama 219.5/7.01; (75) Kentucky 218.4/6.39; (81) Tennessee 210.7/7.24; (102) South Carolina 190.2/6.84; (104) Georgia 183.8/7.24; (105) Vanderbilt 183.0/5.61; (108) Auburn 177.4/7.15; (Tie, 109) Missouri 176.8/5.59; (114) LSU166.3/8.18
Total offense: (yards per game/per play): (10) Ole Miss 526.6/7.04; (25) Arkansas 469.3/6.93; (40) Mississippi State 438.4/6.37; (42) Texas A&M 434.0/5.70; (48) Tennessee 421.0/5.60; (50) LSU 419.3/6.69; (51) Alabama 418.8/5.73; (78) Georgia 386.2; (87) FLORIDA 370.9/5.47; (91) Auburn 368.7/5.34; (99) Kentucky 362.9/5.34; (104) South Carolina 350.5/5.49; (115) Vanderbilt 335.9/4.53; (123) Missouri 297.7/4.52
Sacks allowed (number/yards lost): (Tie, 9) Georgia 10-62; (Tie, 13) Arkansas 11-74; (Tie, 38) Auburn 16-109, Alabama 16-126, Ole Miss 16-127; (Tie, 47) LSU 15-113; (Tie, 59) Vanderbilt 20-126; (Tie, 64) Tennessee 21-156; (Tie, 70) Mississippi State 22-146, South Carolina 22-134; (Tie, 88) Texas A&M 25-169, Kentucky 25-159, Missouri 25-160; (Tie, 108) FLORIDA 28-144
Turnovers lost: (Tie, 1) LSU 5; (7) Arkansas 9; (Tie, 20) FLORIDA 12, Tennessee 12, Mississippi State 12; (Tie, 35) Auburn 13; (Tie, 49) Missouri 14, South Carolina 14; (Tie, 68) Alabama 16, Georgia 16; (Tie, 95) Texas A&M 19, Kentucky 19; (Tie, 112) Ole Miss 21; (Tie, 117) Vanderbilt 23
Scoring (points per game): (4) FLORIDA14.5; (5) Missouri 14.7; (7) Alabama 15.3; (Tie, 10) Vanderbilt 17.4; (14) Georgia 17.9; (19) Mississippi State 18.6; (32) Tennessee 21.8; (43) Ole Miss 23.0; (Tie, 48) Texas A&M 24.0; (50) LSU 24.3; (Tie, 63) Auburn; (67) South Carolina 27.0; (Tie, 73) Arkansas 27.9; (76) Kentucky 28.1
Rushing (yards per game/per attempt): (2) Alabama 77.1/2.49; (10) FLORIDA 105.1/3.19; (14) Missouri 113.7/2.98; (20) Arkansas 122.4/3.81; (21) Vanderbilt 123.7/3.67; (23) Ole Miss 125.7/3.19; (27) LSU 133.9/4.06; (37) Georgia 139.6/3.82; (51) Tennessee 154.9/4.21; (77) Mississippi State 174.4/4.21; (90) Auburn 186.7/4.61; (94) Kentucky 189.3/4.49; (104) South Carolina 202.3/5.04; (113) Texas A&M 210.2/5.03
Passing (yards per game/per attempt): (4) Georgia 162.7/5.87; (10) FLORIDA 174.9/5.81; (15) Texas A&M 182.9/6.22; (17) Missouri 183.1/5.90; (30) Mississippi State 195.9/6.07; (31) Vanderbilt 196.0; (40) Alabama 201.0/5.71; (46) LSU 208.9/6.31; (51) Kentucky 211.5/7.24; (63) South Carolina 223.3/7.04; (66) Auburn 225.1/6.49; (69) Tennessee 226.2/6.71; (113) Arkansas 282.3/8.48
Total defense (yards per game/per play): (4) Alabama 278.1/4.20; (5) FLORIDA 280.0/4.44; (8) Missouri 297.7/4.30; (10) Georgia 302.3/4.71; (17) Vanderbilt 319.7/4.82; (30) LSU 342.8/5.18; (48) Mississippi State 370.3/5.02; (50) Ole Miss 374.0/4.74; (54) Tennessee 381.1/5.41; (62) Texas A&M 393.1/5.52; (Tie, 68) Kentucky 400.8/5.61; (77) Arkansas 404.7/6.19; (79) Auburn 411.8/5.48; (89) South Carolina 425.6/5.93
Sacks (number/yards lost): (2) Alabama 38-225; (Tie, 8) FLORIDA 32-224; (Tie, 19) Texas A&M 28-161; (Tie, 22) Missouri 27-159; (Tie, 33) LSU 23-163; (Tie, 35) Mississippi State 25-182; (Tie, 47) Vanderbilt 23-140; (Tie, 76) South Carolina 19-127; Tennessee 19-112; (Tie, 86) Georgia 18-104, Ole Miss 18-127; (Tie, 106) Auburn 14-104; (Tie, 111) Kentucky 13-87, Arkansas 13-98
Turnovers created: (Tie, 13) FLORIDA 21; (Tie, 16) Alabama 20; (Tie, 46) Vanderbilt 17, Georgia 17, Ole Miss 17, South Carolina 17; (Tie, 62) Texas A&M 16; (Tie, 70) Auburn 15, Missouri 15; (Tie, 84) Kentucky 14; (Tie, 89) Arkansas 13; (Tie, 97) LSU 12, Mississippi State 12, Tennessee 12
If Ohio State wins its last three games against Michigan State (now 9-1), Michigan (now 8-2) and Iowa (now 10-0), the Buckeyes will almost certainly be the top seeded team for the College Football Playoff.
When the rankings for the playoffs come out tonight, I expect the top four to be (1) Clemson; (2) Alabama; (3) Ohio State and (4) Oklahoma State. I think the next four will be Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Iowa and Florida.
Oklahoma’s final two games are against TCU and Oklahoma State. If Baker Mayfield lights it up both games and the Sooners win the Big 12, he could win the Heisman.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Based on the first 11 weeks of the season, who are your 1-2-3 for the Heisman Trophy?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
If you’re not at least 40 years old, then you probably never heard of Phoebe Snow. She had an incredible voice that spanned four octaves and a stage presence like few have ever possessed. Her 1976 album “Second Childhood” continues to amaze me.